The Palestinian death toll has risen to over 100 as Israeli aircraft carried out an attack on a media center Monday in the Gaza Strip. The attack killed a senior militant, according to the New York Times. On Monday, Israel was dared by Khaled Meshal, the top leader of Hamas, to launch a ground invasion of Gaza.
Meshal said during a news conference, “If you wanted to launch it, you would have done it.”
Israel increased its bombing raids this past weekend, attacking homes of activists in Hamas, which led to the killing of 24 civilians in two days. Egypt has been trying to arrange a cease-fire between the two parties. Meshal said that Israel has to meet Hamas’ demands for removing the blockade of Gaza.
“We don’t accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor,” he told reporters in Egypt. “We want a cease-fire along with meeting our demands.”
An unnamed official from Israel said that the country hopes a solution can be reached and that Egypt would have to enforce the truce between the two parties.
“We prefer the diplomatic solution if it’s possible. If we see it’s not going to bear fruit, we can escalate.” He also said that Israel is not looking for a ‘quick fix’ that brings fighting back in a few months down the road. Israel wants ‘international guarantees’ that Hamas will not use Sinai for military activity or rearm its troops.
The offensive from Israel has killed 53 civilians and has wounded over 840 people, 225 of them children. All told, 100 Palestinians have died so far, according to Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra.
In Israel, three civilians have been killed and dozens have been wounded in rocket fire from Hamas. Israel has used a rocket-defense system that has been able to shoot down rockets from Hamas that are targeted on highly populated areas in Israel. Over 1,000 rockets have been fired by Hamas into Israel, with 95 coming on Monday. Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said that the Iron Dome anti-missile battery intercepted 29 rockets.
Ramez Harb, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, was killed when an airstrike hit a high-rise building in Gaza City. The sister group of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, said that they believe Harb was targeted in the strike.
According to officials, Israel has been able to kill dozens of wanted militants in strikes during the operation because of intelligence acquired by informants and its drones flying over Gaza. A missile hit a home in Gaza City’s Zeitoun section, killing three adults and a two-year-old. Forty-two people were wounded in the attack, according to al-Kidra.